The experiences of learners' assessed as intellectually superior in a school for learners with special needs.
In South Africa despite the call for a paradigm shift addressing barriers to learning, whereby the needs of each learner will be incorporated into an inclusive classroom (DOE, 2001), the medical model is still dominant. The learners who experience learning difficulties are still placed in LSEN schools. It is not only learners who have below average intelligence quotient (IQ) test results who are placed in LSEN schools, but also those that have average, above average and superior IQ’s (Sheryl, Handler, Watson, & Fierson, 2011). The element of functioning in the intellectually ‘superior' range of intelligence is not taken into consideration before placement. The focus is placed on the difficulty. This study therefore looked at the experiences of learners assessed as intellectually ‘superior’ and who also experienced learning difficulties in an LSEN school and how the school promoted the competence of these learners as indicated by the IQ tests. This research was a qualitative study which positioned itself within the interpretivist paradigm. The research design was a case study of seven learners within an LSEN school who had ‘superior IQs’ and learning difficulties. The first technique utilised to generate data was semi-structured interviews. The second was document analysis of the school curriculum and the third was interviewing the therapists. Purposeful sampling was used. This study’s validity was based on trustworthiness. Inductive thematic analysis was utilized to determine the themes of this study. There were seven emergent themes that this study yielded. These were interwoven with the theoretical framework of positive psychology and refuted the relevant literature that was reviewed. Despite the placement of learners with learning difficulties being rooted in the medical model this study’s findings reflect that the learners within this LSEN School do have positive experiences and are in fact exposed a holistic approach to education. It is therefore recommended that with departmental consent those chosen government mainstream schools follow a similar type of focus to allow learners who experience difficulty to also experience success.